Recent Nursing grads can help SC Hospitals under temporary license

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — Some new faces are heading to local hospitals to help out with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the state’s Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (SC LLR) are giving recent nursing graduates temporary licenses to help understaffed hospitals.

Several hospitals across the state are exceeding capacity due to the sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 patients.

On Tuesday, DHEC announced, via the state’s Bed Availability Report Tracking (BART) module, that beds were filled at 84% capacity, with 1,593 of the beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. However, they did note that as opposed to their prior tracking system, the margin of error is around 10%.

Since the earliest some recent graduates could take the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX), the test nurses take to earn their license, in South Carolina was in September, some have had to travel to other states in order to achieve a license.

“If they’re all going to have to wait until August, September, October to take their exams, that takes a long time to get them into the workforce,” said Thornton Kirby, the President and CEO of the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) in a press conference July 14.

To offset the long wait times to take the test, DHEC and SC LLR teamed up to give recent graduates a chance to apply their skills during the pandemic.

These licenses can be given to any nursing school graduate without a criminal record scheduled to take the NCLEX test. 

Jeannette Andrews, the Dean of the University of South Carolina College of Nursing, told ABC Columbia her students will provide invaluable skills to assist doctors in overflowing hospitals, like spotting subtle changes in a patient’s condition.

“With a COVID patient, these changes could happen really fast. So, the higher skilled nurses in these situations could impact positively patient-care outcomes,” Andrews said.

Andrews says around 250 graduates from nursing schools across the state are still waiting to take their test, but by giving them a temporary license, she says this will allow them to put their education into action.

“This is real significant because 250 nurses bedside means perhaps 250 less travel nurses from higher states at a higher cost,” Andrews said.

To learn more about the order and what it takes for recent nursing graduates to achieve a temporary license, click here.

Categories: Local News